by Maury Koffman, APA President
The 95th NEA Representative Assembly (RA) kicked off on the morning of July 4 with the typical energetic celebration among the 7,000 delegates in attendance.
As the top decision-making body for the 3 million-member NEA, the RA debated 125 new business items that are intended to help direct the efforts of our national union in the coming year. Some key new business items called on the Association to join a national effort to prevent acts of violence targeted at LGBTQ individuals and to protect their civil rights. Others addressed funding and debt free programs for colleges and universities.
“We are making a long-term investment. An investment that will command persistence and struggle and commitment and a whole lot of work from every single one of us,” said NEA Vice President Becky Pringle.
On July 5, delegates were visited by the presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
On July 6, NEA’s Executive Director John Stocks addressed the RA and warned the delegates that the new generation of educators may not necessarily understand how vital our union can and will be to them and their students.
“We must become relevant to them, to help them meet the changing needs of their students…to help them be successful educators” Stocks said. “And we must act with urgency.”
The RA is the top decision-making body for NEA and, after days of debate, concluded at 9:31pm on Thursday, July 7.
APA Board member Deb Porter shares her perspective on the 2016 NEA Representative Assembly:
Once a year our national affiliate, the National Education Association, holds a convention requesting delegates from every state attend to develop and do the business of the organization. These are the folks that represent over 3 million public education employees, from pre-school thru higher education and are there to represent you. This year there were approximately 7,000 delegates in attendance.
The assembly itself is just a few days, however there are numerous meetings and committees in the days prior to the assembly. I had the honor and privilege to be your representative at the National Council for Higher Education and the National Council for Education Support Professionals prior to the 2016 National Education Association Representative Assembly (RA). In addition, I also attended the RA as a state delegate for the Michigan Education Association.
Every day we started about 6-6:30 AM and went to 7, 8 or 9 PM. We worked on amendments to the constitution, bylaws and standing rules. We worked on resolutions and policy statements as well as business items as well as passing the budget. We listened to speakers such as Jahana Hayes, Teacher of the Year; Doreen McGuire-Grigg’s, ESP of the Year; John Stocks, NEA Executive Director; friends of education Senator Patty Murray and Senator Lamar Alexander; Lily Eskelsen Garcia and Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton.
My take away from the time spent at the assembly is this. We are very lucky to be associated with an organization that cares and works hard for our children, families, communities and all educational professionals at every level. They are passionate about what they do, knowing they may not always agree, however they are willing to listen, engage and advocate for education. I am proud to be a member of the NEA!